Friday, May 22, 2015

Author and illustrator Mark Greenwood and Frane Lessac available for school visits in Northern Kentucky/Southern Ohio the week of September 21-25, 2015 at a reduced rate


Mark Greenwood and Frane Lessac, author and illustrator of a number of titles, including MIDNIGHT: A TRUE STORY OF LOYALTY IN WORLD WAR I (Candlewick) and THE MAYFLOWER (Holiday House) will be in the U.S. to speak at a couple of libraries in Northern Kentucky the week of September 21-25, 2015.

If any schools in Northern Kentucky or southern Ohio are interested in having them come to speak to grades K-4 during that week, please contact Balkin Buddies at telephone 727-378-4191. Further information can also be found on the Balkin Buddies website. A reduced honorarium will be offered.

We look forward to hearing from you.



Thursday, May 21, 2015

James Ransome's GRANDDADDY'S TURN reviewed in Kirkus


The Kirkus review has much to admire in GRANDDADDY'S TURN: A JOURNEY TO THE BALLOT BOX (Candlewick), by Michael Bandy and Eric Stein and illustrator James Ransome "captures the nuance that is left out of the text in his vibrant watercolor paintings."


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Robin Brickman’s hands-on art and natural science workshops inspire creativity in students



Children's book illustrator Robin Brickman gives hands-on art and natural science workshops to young students, among them the Community Mural project, which involves explaining how she creates paintings for her books and demonstrates her art techniques. Then each student creates his or her own sculpted paper plants and animals that go into the mural that stays at the school, library or museum.

Here is some of the amazing artwork that went into a couple of school murals:

To book Robin and have her come to your own school to inspire the students, you can telephone or email her directly.

James Ransome's GRANDDADDY'S TURN reviewed in School Library Journal


GRANDDADDY'S TURN: A JOURNEY TO THE BALLOT BOX (Candlewick), by Michael Bandy and Eric Stein and illustrated by James Ransome earned a warm review in the May 2015 issue of School Library Journal:


Many of James Ransome's books are appropriate for history units. For information to book him for school visits, please visit Balkin Buddies.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015



                 HIS AUTHOR VISITS

                   ARE AS FUNNY AS HIS BOOKS:

“You influenced my class and me to be free, creative and ourselves!” said one second grade teacher of Kevin O’Malley’s school visit. “He is so inspiring and SO funny to listen to!” said another.

You can also see Kevin in action in this video of one of his school visits where he teaches alliteration without the students even realizing it.


For more information on his programs (he can do up to four a day) and how to book him, just contact Balkin Buddies

Tim. J. Myers speaks at Santa Clara University and reads from RUDE DUDE’S BOOK OF FOOD




Tim J. Myers recently spoke at Santa Clara University, giving a funny and informative talk about food and his new book, RUDE DUDE'S BOOK OF FOOD: STORIES BEHIND SOME OF THE CRAZY-COOL STUFF WE EAT (Familius, 2014). 

We hope you enjoy this video of his talk, which occurs within the first thirty minutes. Be sure you don't miss the dessert poem, which comes at the end like dessert comes at the end of a meal. It's about a middle aged man who talks to kids about his taste buds maturing to the point of liking, ugh, broccoli!

Tim is also available to speak to students and if you’d like to have him come to your school, just contact Balkin Buddies.

Wendell Minor's TRAPPED! A WHALE'S RESCUE receives a starred review in Booklist


TRAPPED! A WHALE'S RESCUE (Charlesbridge), by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Wendell Minor received this wonderfully thoughtful starred review in Booklist:


Wendell Minor's school visits are as excellent as his books. For information on his programs, just contact Balkin Buddies.

Video of Wendell Minor's DAYLIGHT STARLIGHT WILDLIFE






































We hope you enjoy this lovely video of Wendell Minor's DAYLIGHT STARLIGHT WILDLIFE (Nancy Paulsen/Penguin) Garnering great reviews, this picture book pubs today!

Dori Hillestad Butler's unusual school visit


In April, middle grade author Dori Hillestad Butler had a very unusual school visit. We're not even sure you could call it a 'visit.' Dori claims to be the author of THE HAUNTED LIBRARY series (Grossett & Dunlap). But who is she really? A spy? A grown-up seventh grader? A friendly ghost? A writer digging up research for a book? Why do authors do school visits, anyway? We'll let you solve this mystery of an intruder alert.

But be careful. You never know when a middle school author might be doing something...sneaky!



Monday, May 18, 2015

Dori Hillestad Butler’s THE HAUNTED LIBRARY to be included in Barnes and Noble's 2015 Summer Reading Program

What better way to start off the summer than with Barnes& Noble's Summer Reading Program, which will run from May 19, 2015 to September 1, 2015.

For this program, Barnes and Noble features 15 ‘Top Picks’ for each of the three categories (Grades 1 & 2, Grades 3 & 4, and Grades 5 & 6).

THE HAUNTED LIBRARY (Grossett & Dunlap) by Dori Hillestad Butler is among the ‘Top Picks’ for Grades 1 & 2.

Children earn a free book by reading any eight books, recording them in a Barnes and Noble Imagination’s Destination Reading Journal and bringing the completed Journal to their local B&N store.

Besides being a ‘Top Pick,’ THE HAUNTED LIBRARY is one of the selections for the Giveaway.

We hope you'll encourage your children to participate! It promises to be a very rewarding program.



Dori Hillestad Butler's THE HAUNTED LIBRARY is among the 2015 ILA/CBC Children's Choices

We are pleased to let you know that THE HAUNTED LIBRARY (Grossett & Dunlap), by Dori Hillestad Butler, has been chosen as a 2015 ILA/CBC Children's Choice in the Advanced Readers category (Grades 5-8). This is the first title in the author’s ‘Haunted Library’ series, of which there are four out so far, with two more coming out this summer and this fall respectively.

A project of a joint committee supported by the International Literacy Association (ILA) and the Children’s
Book Council (CBC), the Children's Choices List is meant to be used by everyone seeking to encourage children's enjoyment of reading. The list is, in fact, chosen by children throughout the U.S.

Please join us in congratulating Dori for having her book chosen to be among them.

Friday, May 15, 2015

S.A. Bodeen's THE RAFT wins Connecticut's 2015 Nutmeg Award (Teen Category)


We're excited to announce that S.A. Bodeen's THE RAFT (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan) is the winner of Connecticut's 2015 Nutmeg Award in the Teen Category, receiving over 1,200 votes (the only title in this category to break 1,000)!

The purpose of the Nutmeg Award is to encourage students to read quality literature. Jointly sponsored by the Connecticut Library Association (CLA) and the Connecticut Association of School Librarians (CASL), the Nutmeg committee is made up of librarians and school library media specialist who are members of the sponsoring organizations, but it is the students themselves who vote for the winning titles.

Stephanie is thrilled and honored at winning the award. Please join us in congratulating her!

Joanne Rocklin's I SAY SHEHECHIYANU reviewed in Booklist


I SAY SHEHECHIYANU (Kar-Ben), by Joanne Rocklin, is “a good choice for religious schools,” says the Booklist reviewer. . . .


Joanne enjoys speaking to children and adults on a number of subjects. For information on her presentations and how to book her, just visit the Balkin Buddies website.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mark Greenwood and Frane Lessac's MIDNIGHT: A TRUE STORY OF LOYALTY IN WORLD WAR I reviewed in School Library Journal


MIDNIGHT: A TRUE STORY OF LOYALTY IN WORLD WAR I (Candlewick) by Mark Greenwood and  illustrated by Frane Lessac was reviewed in the May 2015 issue of School Library JournalDorcas Hand, the reviewer, found that "the writing and illustrations look ideal for young readers…" What an ideal way to begin teaching the history of WWI! Here's the full review:


For information about Frane and Mark's school visits when they are in the U.S., just contact Balkin Buddies.

Wendell Minor's DAYLIGHT STARLIGHT WILD LIFE receives a starred review from School Library Journal


Words like "lovely," "stunning," "lyrical" and "gorgeous" pop out in this starred review by School Library Journal of DAYLIGHT STARLIGHT WILD LIFE (Penguin), written and illustrated by Wendell Minor:



For more superlative adjectives, we invite you to invite Wendell Minor to come to your school and talk to your students. Just contact Balkin Buddies for information.

Neal Shusterman’s CHALLENGER DEEP nominated for the 2016 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults

We are very pleased to report that CHALLENGER DEEP (Harper Teen) by Neal Shusterman is a 2016YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee.

This is one of the most prestigious ALA award lists. YALSA’s (Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association) Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee presents fiction titles published for young adults in the past 16 months that are recommended reading for ages 12 to 18. The purpose of this annual list is to provide librarians and library workers with a list of books that will appeal to the personal reading tastes of young adults and act as a resource to use for collection development and reader’s advisory purposes. The 15 person committee reads and discusses titles throughout the year and the final list is presented at the annual American Library Association Midwinter Meeting. The Midwinter Meeting at which the 2016 list will be announced will be held in Boston January 8-12, 2016.

Please join us in congratulating Neal on CHALLENGER DEEP being nominated!

A rave review for Mike Graf’s visit to a Lincoln, Nebraska school!

If you’re looking for an author who can talk about America’s national parks or can combine fiction and nonfiction, you’ll be especially interested in this review of a school visit Mike Graf recently did in Lincoln, Nebraska:

 “Part storyteller, part weatherman, all teacher, holding the audience in the palm of his hand, Mike Graf spins tales of adventure, suspense, and appreciation of our earth's natural resources to classes.  Mr. Graf's one of the best author/speakers Pyrtle Elementary's ever had, managing the crowd by giving anticipatory sets, switching back and forth from real life peril to the beauty of our national park system, pacing back and forth as he clicks through his beautiful PowerPoint slides describing his mode of choice, realistic fiction with protagonists, and how he crafts his characters into personalities the reader will care about.  At one point, talking about his characters and the geographical research he does for his books he was talking about looking for scorpions. We all leaned forward, just a little, until we all jumped back as he found it! Over 350 students sat on the library floor and listened with rapt concentration for a solid forty-five minutes with another fifteen minutes of questions and answers at the end. His knowledge is great.  His attention to detail is amazing. His gift of alternating between his fictional stories, classroom management, and detailing the national treasures of our national parks is masterful.  It's evident he knows what he is talking about and loves what he does.

“I first came in contact with Mike Graf when he was honored as one of the nationally recognized authors presenting at Plum Creek Literacy Festival.  I attended his teacher workshop that Saturday and immediately bought Tail of the Scorpion, the Grand Canyon, ten copies, because I planned on using it with my "gifted and talented" students.  All students want to read them, and do.  His attention to detail, panoramic photography, camera shots of flora and fauna, maps, and diagrams (rock layers) in the book creates multiple layers of meaning as the book tells its narrative story.  Mr. Graf even incorporates Ferde Grofe's music at the beginning as the Parkers drive toward the park with The Grand Canyon Suite.  It's a great way to start it for the class, too, playing the Grand Canyon Suite and having them draw what they see.  I've bought many multiple copies of Mike Graf's books.  I love the fact that they are all strong in science and weather.  I will be buying many more! 

“I most highly recommend both Mike Graf's books AND Mr. Graf as a phenomenal speaker.“

Beverly Hoistad

Lincoln, NE